Ellen Stuttle

Michelle Marder Kamhi's "Who Says That's Art?"

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I've just paid a visit to Auntie Kamhi's bossypants blog where she has a new entry.

Though I highly doubt that Auntie will be allowing my message to appear on her site, I offered the following in response to her latest gripe:

The idea of explaining works of art is nothing new. In fact, it's the entire history of art, most especially the nonverbal arts. Your assumption that works of visual art have throughout history, until recently, successfully communicated artists' intended meanings to individuals without supplementary/external information (or what Ayn Rand called "outside considerations") is unsupported by any evidence.

You have never objectively demonstrated that even one single work of alleged art has succeeded in meeting your criterion that a work of art can and must communicate intended meaning via its content alone and allowing for no outside considerations.

Oh, and, hey, prints of my work are now available online:

https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/20-jonathan-smith.html

Lots of framing and matting options.

Maybe we could use my work to begin to test how good your theory of visual art is! Take at look at each work in my little online collection, and identify what my intended meaning is for each piece -- except for "Seance/Science," which includes the beginnings of a description of intentions. I'll give no clues, no outside considerations, to the other images.

Please, have at it. Let's see how you do.


J

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32 minutes ago, Jonathan said:

I've just paid a visit to Auntie Kamhi's bossypants blog where she has a new entry.

Though I highly doubt that Auntie will be allowing my message to appear on her site, I offered the following in response to her latest gripe:

The idea of explaining works of art is nothing new. In fact, it's the entire history of art, most especially the nonverbal arts. Your assumption that works of visual art have throughout history, until recently, successfully communicated artists' intended meanings to individuals without supplementary/external information (or what Ayn Rand called "outside considerations") is unsupported by any evidence.

You have never objectively demonstrated that even one single work of alleged art has succeeded in meeting your criterion that a work of art can and must communicate intended meaning via its content alone and allowing for no outside considerations.

Oh, and, hey, prints of my work are now available online:

https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/20-jonathan-smith.html

Lots of framing and matting options.

Maybe we could use my work to begin to test how good your theory of visual art is! Take at look at each work in my little online collection, and identify what my intended meaning is for each piece -- except for "Seance/Science," which includes the beginnings of a description of intentions. I'll give no clues, no outside considerations, to the other images.

Please, have at it. Let's see how you do.


J

For Storm, which print tech do you think is best? The sheet aluminum sounds neat, but not if you say it is a mistake for that work or have a better idea. And is there a size limit, meaning does resolution of that work suggest a limit?

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From test samples, my personal preferences for almost all art are framed prints on their "Archival Matte Paper" or the "Somerset Velvet."

The metal option might work with Storm, but my view is that the metal is better with lighter tones and images that don't have so much black area.

As for resolution, the files that I uploaded were built for the largest size options, so there should be no problem with any size.

My advice -- personal taste -- would be decide what you want to pay, then create an order at/near that price which will get you a framed and matted print. Storm looks pretty damned slick with a white mat and the default black frame.

But, if your tastes are more toward the unframed look, then the metal, acrylic or canvas print would be the way to go.

J

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Auntie has a new post at her blog:

 

Quote

 

What Semmelweis Taught Me

What does a book report on the life of a nineteenth-century Hungarian obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) have to do with artand art education, the subjects I’m now immersed in? Quite a lot, as it happens...

 

 

 

She won't be publishing my comment:

"The Semmelweis in me makes me repeat this unanswered challenge once again, Ms. Kamhi: Prove that anything has ever qualified as art by your definition and criteria. Objectively demonstrate it. As of this moment, nothing has ever been shown to qualify."

J

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The doctor collected data and made logical extrapolations. Additional data helped confirm.

I assume Kamhi believes in AGW. Or should.

--Brant

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10 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

The doctor collected data and made logical extrapolations. Additional data helped confirm.

I assume Kamhi believes in AGW. Or should.

--Brant

No data were ever involved. It started with theory based on feelings. Just certain people's feelings: the people who believe themselves to be the universal standard and limit of cognition, and of aesthetic response. Then rules were made, and were applied only to certain things so as to eliminate them from the realm of Art. THAT'S NOT ART!!! Those exact same rules have never been applied to the things which the rule-makers wish to accept as qualifying as Art. How dare anyone suggest that they be so applied!

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I don't think Rand herself went quite so far respecting art. There seems to be some equivocation, an equivocation not found in AS which was art but not about art. She needed absolute certainty or there would have been no 13 years writing it.

--Brant

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The tree of truth has many branches. Some are bogus. The trunk is reality and the branches are all human made. When you go out on the wrong limb it doesn't have to break off even if it's rotten and dead, but there your beliefs are, likely on public display, especially if you make a fuss about them.

--Brant

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When you are surrounded by rot but you aren't rot the rot can destroy you. Your integrity is your biggest protector as in the character of Howard Roark. But Howard slipped up by his involvement with Peter Keating and could have ended up in the slammer. All that work he did that Peter put his name on was fraudulent, but the novel needed structure born out of contrast and conflict.

Rand implicitly recognized this problem in AS by removing her heroes from society once they saw the light. This amounted to chopping down the whole tree leaving a few saplings behind. But you can only chop down the tree in fiction.

--Brant

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The unintended result was the destruction of art. Nothing is art by Objectivism's definition and criteria. Perhaps someday one thing might become art, and then another, but, for now, nothing qualifies or has been objectively proven to qualify. Objectivishists value denying art status to abstract art more than they value consistency, rationality and objectivity. They will not abandon their rules which they use to reject abstract art, even when they are shown that those same rules have the same devastating effect when equally applied to their favorite works which they falsely claim are validly classified as art. 

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It's all or nothing. All that's needed is a statement of preferences, I prefer this to that, not that that's not art and this is. Then nasty Jonathan can't slice and dice you.

Objectivity in art is from one's values, not existential criteria. That's objectivity off a subjective base. There's no contradiction for they are separated by the hierarchy.

What is art? Whatever hoi polloi wants to say or any "expert." The same for the converse. Without this anarchy creativity goes into the garbage can and what's left is imitation.

Ayn Rand had a great need to be in control and, naturally enough, it seeped down. You need to be in control when you're at war. She was always at war. 

--Brant

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2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

The unintended result was the destruction of art. Nothing is art by Objectivism's definition and criteria. Perhaps someday one thing might become art, and then another, but, for now, nothing qualifies or has been objectively proven to qualify. Objectivishists value denying art status to abstract art more than they value consistency, rationality and objectivity. They will not abandon their rules which they use to reject abstract art, even when they are shown that those same rules have the same devastating effect when equally applied to their favorite works which they falsely claim are validly classified as art. 

Hi, Jonathan. Can I ask what you think what the definition of art is, and if you think that there are some things that couldn't be called art? (I apologize if you've explained before, I haven't seen your comments to Kamhi that you mentioned.)

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5 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

Hi, Jonathan. Can I ask what you think what the definition of art is, and if you think that there are some things that couldn't be called art? (I apologize if you've explained before, I haven't seen your comments to Kamhi that you mentioned.)

"The" definition? Heh.

Um, I think that people can have differing views on what is or is not art. I just think that any definition and criteria that anyone offers up should be consistent, non-contradictory, and it should treat everyone's aesthetic responses as being equally valid, not just Ayn Rand's and Michelle Kamhi's. If one's definition and criteria require, say, communication of intended meanings, then that should be true of all art forms, and then all alleged art works should be objectively tested, rather than Rand's or Kamhi's favorites just being arbitrarily and falsely asserted as having succeeded in communicating.

As for your question some things not being art, I think the question is irrelevant. That's not a valid way of doing philosophy of aesthetics. One doesn't start out by imposing one's arbitrary wish to exclude certain things and then work back from there. When you do that, you end up with the contradictory mess that the Objectivist aesthetics is. You invent irrational standards, and then you end up with nothing qualifying as art.

J

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3 hours ago, Jonathan said:

"The" definition? Heh.

Um, I think that people can have differing views on what is or is not art. I just think that any definition and criteria that anyone offers up should be consistent, non-contradictory, and it should treat everyone's aesthetic responses as being equally valid, not just Ayn Rand's and Michelle Kamhi's. If one's definition and criteria require, say, communication of intended meanings, then that should be true of all art forms, and then all alleged art works should be objectively tested, rather than Rand's or Kamhi's favorites just being arbitrarily and falsely asserted as having succeeded in communicating.

As for your question some things not being art, I think the question is irrelevant. That's not a valid way of doing philosophy of aesthetics. One doesn't start out by imposing one's arbitrary wish to exclude certain things and then work back from there. When you do that, you end up with the contradictory mess that the Objectivist aesthetics is. You invent irrational standards, and then you end up with nothing qualifying as art.

J

Thank you for explaining.

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15 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

How about “Manmade things intended to induce emotional, contemplative reactions”?

Yeah, not bad.

J

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2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

Yeah, not bad.

J

I’m not knowledgeable or passionate about art but I have followed many of your conversations with interest. When you  point out the inconsistency that music doesn’t fit her criteria but she called it art anyway, they break into gibberish or avoid the issue, it’s comical, I’m always entertained by it.

I also don’t get the either–or rigidity regarding whether this or that discipline is art, say, architecture. Keeping water out is utility not art, but a textured roof that looks like waves of wind over tall grass and costs three times a traditional roof and raises the cost of the home by 8% is art because it was done for contemplation and aesthetic consideration, the essential characteristic of art. Insisting on the absence of utility strikes me as definition by exclusion.

We can make distinctions, we can call it fine art or pure art when there is no utility at all. But if someone’s favorite sculpture turns out, unbeknownst to them, to be a personal aircraft — you press this button here and wings fold out and you can fly away in the thing — then now they have to pick a new favorite sculpture because this one isn’t art anymore?  Seems like definition by non–essentials to me.

 

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22 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

I’m not knowledgeable or passionate about art but I have followed many of your conversations with interest. When you  point out the inconsistency that music doesn’t fit her criteria but she called it art anyway, they break into gibberish or avoid the issue, it’s comical, I’m always entertained by it.

I also don’t get the either–or rigidity regarding whether this or that discipline is art, say, architecture. Keeping water out is utility not art, but a textured roof that looks like waves of wind over tall grass and costs three times a traditional roof and raises the cost of the home by 8% is art because it was done for contemplation and aesthetic consideration, the essential characteristic of art. Insisting on the absence of utility strikes me as definition by exclusion.

We can make distinctions, we can call it fine art or pure art when there is no utility at all. But if someone’s favorite sculpture turns out, unbeknownst to them, to be a personal aircraft — you press this button here and wings fold out and you can fly away in the thing — then now they have to pick a new favorite sculpture because this one isn’t art anymore?  Seems like definition by non–essentials to me.

 

Well said.

J

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

How about "If Kamhi says, 'It's not art!'"?

--Brant

Yes, or anyone who screams "Not ART!!!" as loudly or louder than Kamhi does. Whomever dedicates the largest portion of their life to denying the validity of other people's aesthetic responses wins, and becomes the universal standard and limit of cognition and of aesthetic response.

J

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2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

Yes, or anyone who screams "Not ART!!!" as loudly or louder than Kamhi does. Whomever dedicates the largest portion of their life to denying the validity of other people's aesthetic responses wins, and becomes the universal standard and limit of cognition and of aesthetic response.

J

So much "Not ART!!!", so little time!

--Brant

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